UN: Humanitarian access to northern Ethiopia remains challenging

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An aid worker distributes measured portions of yellow lentils to residents of Geha subcity at an aid operation run by USAID, Catholic Relief Services and the Relief Society of Tigray on June 16, 2021. Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images

UNITED NATIONS -- Humanitarian access to the northern parts of Ethiopia remains challenging, said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Tuesday.

In the northernmost Tigray region, the humanitarian situation is deteriorating due to the restrictions imposed on the delivery of humanitarian supplies into the region via the only Semera-Abala-Mekelle route through the Afar region, said OCHA.

There has been no movement of convoys with humanitarian supplies into Tigray since Oct. 18 while an estimated 100 trucks with food, non-food items, and fuel are required in Tigray daily to meet critical humanitarian needs.

Fuel for the humanitarian response has not entered Tigray since early August. Due to severe fuel shortages, many humanitarian partners have been forced to significantly reduce or suspend their activities, including food deliveries and water trucking, said OCHA.

Sixteen fuel tankers, each with a capacity of 45,000 liters, are sitting idle in Semera, Afar. It is estimated that more than 272,000 liters of fuel are required every month for humanitarian operations.

The suspension of UN humanitarian flights, following the mid-air turn-around due to airstrikes in Tigray on Friday, blocked transportation of personnel and much-needed cash into Tigray, further hampering the humanitarian response.

The humanitarian situation in Afar and Amhara regions is also deteriorating as conflict expands in multiple locations, causing massive displacement, disruption of livelihoods, and food insecurity. Ongoing hostilities are blocking the delivery of humanitarian assistance to hundreds of thousands of people in the two regions that border Tigray.

"The United Nations continues to call for unfettered humanitarian access by all available routes -- both road and air -- to ensure that vital and life-saving assistance can immediately reach people in need in Afar, Amhara, and Tigray," OCHA said.

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